London is a big city – but you probably knew that – and in an effort to reduce smog in this city of 20 million or so (about the population of Australia in an area about 1/8th of Tasmania) they have a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for diesel engine vehicles (which of course Max is) which you have to comply to and register for before entering the area – or face huge fines. That is OK if your vehicle is registered in the UK – just go online and enter your rego and if you comply no problem. But for us since Max is registered in Germany we need to complete a 5 page form and send in a copy of registration papers 10 – 15 days before you plan to visit and select the days you will be entering the zone. We are flat out knowing what we might be doing tomorrow let alone 10 days in advance as well as the problem of printing and copying forms. So we found a place to stay inside the M25 (the major ring road around London) but outside the LEZ, so about 45 minutes on a bus and tube into the centre of London.
I needed to do some work and planned to do it once we stopped in London – I figured that we would even have wifi at the caravan park or as we were so close to the capital of the UK mobile data would be good. WRONG, we arrived and no wifi, no problem I can just use our mobile internet, nope the 3G coverage was no good. I needed to get the work done before we started on London so I went and asked at the office. “Yeah, Internet is no good here” was the response I got. So I ended up wandering around the campsite with the laptop out and my mobile dongle trying to find some coverage. I ended up setting up an office in the laundry – I got some interesting looks, but got the work done.
The weather for our time in London was hot. In fact the whole time we have been in the UK we have had great weather and we thank God for this. None of the miserable rainy weather that we thought we may get. While we were in Ireland it actually got pretty hot, even reaching 30 degrees on a couple of days.
Our first full day in London started out with the bus (red double decker of course) ride and then our first experience of the London Tube system. We passed through a few iconic stations that we recognised.
We arrived at Oxford Circus station and then walked along Regent Street and to Piccadilly Circus and across Pall Mall – it felt a little like we were on a Monopoly board.
Along the way we checked out Piccadilly Circus with its huge electronic billboard and masses of people, London buses and taxis.
We went and visited the Horse guards.
It is a little strange because everything looks so familiar, I guess because we see so many images of London.
Legoboy had been hanging out to visit Hamleys toy store. The store covers 6 floors and I believe it is the largest toy store in the UK. We of course made a beeline for the Lego level along with a few stops along the way including a stop to check out the Monopoly sets for our friends. There are also a number of Lego models of the Royal Family as well as Star Wars characters etc.
In the morning when we were walking past the store we passed a bus stop and I thought that it looked like the glass window in it was made out of blocks like lego. While we were at Hamleys the doorman suggested to Legoboy that he should check out the Lego bus stop just outside. The whole bus stop including the seats and the sign are all made out of Lego – pretty impressive.
In the afternoon we visited the British Museum which had a large exhibition of Greek and Egyptian artefacts. Some of these had been collected and returned to England in dubious circumstances.
We enjoyed a good first day in London and had a good chance to wander around and get our bearings a little bit.